Well, you don’t really have to spend a fortune to get a car that offers impressive performance and fuel economy, and doesn’t even compromise on the safety or reliability front. However, we got to admit that they are kind of hard to find, as it probably takes quite a bit of testing to find budget cars that come packed with the same level of performance and power as many high-end ones.
That being said, our list of 15 best cars under $25,000 will probably surprise you that you can get so much for so less. So without further ado, let’s take a look at them.
#1 Chevrolet Sonic LT
The Sonic is one of the few subcompact cars out there that offer reasonably impressive performance, but are priced just under $20,000. The Sonic, coming with a price tag of $18,000 – $19,000, is impressively quick and powerful. There’s a bit to be desired, too, though, such as the slightly disappointing steering, slow response time, and the almost annoying touch-screen system.
However, you can’t really complain about that much, given the standard 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and some advanced features such as a backup camera and forward-collision alert, which are really surprising for the price.
#2 Honda Fit EX
Not all are going to like the Fit hatchback, but it’s really good in some aspects. That being said, many in urban areas may definitely want to consider it, given that it comes with an impressive fuel economy of 33 mpg, multi-configurable seating (that makes it comparable to a small SUV) as well as a very high level of versatility.
However, these impressive features come at a price, and it’s that the Fit is very noisy, with a loud cabin. The ride, too, isn’t as smooth as what you can get with some other subcompact cars. These two downsides make it a little less desirable for longer rides.
Apart from that, the Fit EX seems to be a fairly good option for under $20,000
#3 Nissan Versa Note SV
The Note SV comes with some really strong features, including a lot of space, and a reasonably high level of comfort and versatility. It’s also relatively quieter and reliable, and the fuel economy is decent as well at 31 mpg.
There are some not-so-huge downsides such as the front seats, including the driver’s seat not being as comfortable, and there being little to no interior storage. However, for around $19,000, you may not get many better options than the Note SV.
#4 Scion iA
The Scion iA doesn’t fail to surprise most experts out there by coming with some really unique features, despite being priced very affordably. It boasts a powerful 106-hp, 1.5-liter four-cylinder. You have the option to choose between an automatic and a six-speed manual.
The fuel economy turns out to be 35 mpg, which is again very good for a subcompact priced so low. There are also a bunch of fairly advanced features such as a backup camera, pre-collision system, advanced steering-wheel controls and more.
On top of that, there’s also the attractive interior. All these features simply translate to a great bang for your buck, as the iA comes with a modest price tag of just around $17,500.
#5 Honda Civic LX
The new version of the Civic comes with many significant improvements over the previous version, making it one of the best choices in the budget compact car segment. The 2.0-liter base engine and the 1.5-liter turbo engine offer great performance for the price.
The Civic LX also exceeds expectations on the storage and interior-quality front, as well as offer a great ride quality and precise handling. Perhaps the few downsides include the less comfortable front seats and no full-blind monitoring system.
#6 Kia Soul Plus
The Soul definitely isn’t for everyone. However, if you’re looking for the rather rare combination of style and comfort, the Soul may just manage to hit the spot.
It comes with a very comfortable interior, with the seats being just as comfortable. The functionality is great and comparable to some of the SUVs out there, and the handling is reasonably good for the price, too.
On the downsides, the 26 mpg fuel economy isn’t very impressive, and so is the not-so-powerful 2.0-liter four-cylinder. It’s priced at just under $25,000, and it may well justify its price tag for many.
#7 Mazda3 i Touring
The Mazda3 definitely seems to be one of the best cars under $25,000 in the compact car segment. It’s classy. It’s fun to drive. It’s probably pretty much everything you can expect in a budget compact car, and perhaps a bit more.
It’s not a hybrid or a diesel, yet it comes with an amazing fuel economy of 33 mpg. There’s also a long list of luxury features, including an advanced multimedia system and safety features.
However, the Mazda3 might just seem to be a little less impressive when it comes to being quiet and comfortable. But for a price tag of around $22,000, it may well turn out to be your best bet.
#8 Subaru Impreza Premium
The Impreze is an all-round compact sedan. Both the ride quality and safety features seem top-notch, with the handling being quite responsive as well. The otherwise lackluster fuel economy of 27 mpg is actually acceptable for a compact sedan.
There are also many other impressive features, and the latest version, priced just a little higher at around $23,000, comes with a lot of interior space and even better traction. Finally, it probably won’t be wrong to say that the Impreze is the safest car under $25,000, thanks to all the advanced safety features it comes with.
#9 Honda Accord LX
The Accord is one of the few budget midsized sedans that hardly leave anything to be desired. Ranging from the spacious interior to the reasonably responsive handling, everything seems to be more than good enough for the price.
The overall fuel economy of 26 mpg, too, is pretty good, with the price of just a little under $25,000 being fair for what it offers. After all, there’s a reason it’s one of the best-selling budget cars out there.
#10 Mazda6 Sport
This is probably the only midsized sedan out there that’s sporty and classy, but still comes with an amazing fuel economy of over 30 mpg overall. The ride, too, is reasonably smooth and comfortable, though it’s a little on the louder side.
The new version is priced just a little over $25,000, but comes with some refreshing changes. If you’re looking for a midsized sedan with some personality, without compromising on the fuel economy front, you may definitely want to consider the Mazda6.
#11 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium
The Legacy is definitely one of the best cars under $25,000, and perhaps the best midsized sedan out there. It’s roomy, comfortable and powerful – features that are really hard to find in any other midsized sedan without shelling out a lot more.
The 2.5-liter four-cylinder offers it the power it needs to get the job done, with the fuel economy averaging around a decent 26 mpg.
Although it’s priced at just around the $25,000 mark, it’s easily comparable to some of the luxury cars out there, especially when it comes to the ride quality.
#12 Toyota Camry LE
The Camry is another all-round midsized sedan that offers much more than what it demands. The ride is smooth and comfortable, and the handling is responsive and secure.
The latest version comes with an even attractive and spacious interior, with the 2.5-liter engine offering a great amount of power.
#13 Toyota Prius
You’re going to love the king of hybrids, Prius, for its amazing fuel economy of 52 mpg, and a lot more! It’s stylish and it offers a great fun ride.
The 1.8-liter four-cylinder is going to be powerful enough for most, and it’s also quietly comfortable. In other words, the Prius is the best hybrid car under $25,000.
#14 Hyundai Sonata
The all-new Sonata comes with everything it needs to take on rivals like the Accord and the Camry. One of the most noticeable improvements include a more powerful 2.4-liter four-cylinder, boasting a horsepower of 185, and returning 25 mpg in city and 37 mpg in highway driving.
Then there’s also the luxurious interior, perhaps matched only by luxury cars, which are priced much higher than Sonata’s modest $22,000. The 7-speed automatic transmission is another surprisingly impressive feature.
Finally, while the Sonata isn’t as spacious as its biggest aforementioned competitors, it’s probably still good enough for most.
#15 Ford Fusion
Surprised to see the Fusion on this list? Well, the Fusion isn’t all about the style. Its stylish body comes packed with many practical features, including being roomy and spacious, having a luxurious cabin and more.
There’s also quite a bit of variety here, with two hybrid and four gas engines to choose from. The turbo engines are both powerful and fuel efficient, with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder returning 22 mpg and 34 mpg in city driving and highway driving, respectively.
It also comes with many other impressive features such as a sharp handling, great ride quality and many advanced features. For a price of just around $22,500, the Fusion is definitely a tempting budget option.